There are as many variations of this vital figure as there are political parties, civil society organizations and asylum representative groups. In a normal country where citizens cross a formal border – whether legally to seek asylum or with fake holiday tickets – it is easy for immigration services to extrapolate estimates.
South Africa’s case is complicated by the fact that its borders are openly porous; with a border control system that is known to be highly corruptible, inefficient and downright criminal.
Additionally, the generic label of “illegal immigrants” is usually associated with Zimbabweans whose country is not only close to South Africa but also has timeless and deep historical ties.
How South Africa can see so many foreigners escaping official records – and from just one country – is a subject of political and social science.
Zimbabweans in South Africa – whether documented or not – are an easy target for populist electoral hatred.
The provinces of Masvingo and Matabeleland South are the Zimbabwean geographical entities closest to the northern border of Limpopo in South Africa, with the western and eastern tripoints being linked by a distance of approximately 225 km.
Considering the high levels of unemployment and drought in these provinces, combined with weak – if any – border patrol systems and political instability, it is easy to understand why the economy and social services of South Africa is currently working under an albatross of undocumented immigrants. extraterrestrials.
It is against this backdrop that #SouthAfricaVotes2024 will inevitably arouse a coterie of political emotions from this country’s main political protagonists. Zimbabweans in South Africa – whether documented or not – are an easy target for populist electoral hatred.
Given South Africa’s already strained social service delivery, high unemployment and skyrocketing crime rates, tThe main culprits for this country’s misfortunes are the Zimbabweans.
There are nearly 14 registered political parties that will vie for political office with a common message: ending unemployment and crime; transgressions primarily associated with “Makwerekwere” – a derogatory nickname for African foreigners, particularly Zimbabweans, Mozambicans and Malawians.
The four leaders of South Africa’s electoral drama – the African National Congress (ANC), the Democratic Alliance (DA), the Economic Freedom Front (EFF) and the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) – will invariably focus their storylines on the economic deficiencies of this country.
Yet these “conventional” parties – unlike Herman Mashaba’s ActionSA, the eccentric Dudula and Mmusi Maimane’s Build One South Africa (BOSA) – are unlikely to brandish xenophobic attacks as part of their toolkit the country.
However, what Zimbabweans, Malawians, Mozambicans and – to a lesser extent – Ethiopians and Somalis know is that all political parties tend to send sublime messages. anti-foreign messages to attract the attention of their supporters.
This spells disaster for Zimbabweans, who typically make up the largest number of foreigners. Furthermore, the growing popularity of the EFF and the desire to “identify with the masses” of ActionSA, Dudula and BOSA constitute a powerful mix in the barrel of political messaging.
In recent months, Dudula and BOSA have sharply criticized the ANC and the EFF, their main competitor, for their indulgence towards Zimbabweans.
That of Herman Mashaba unsubstantiated allegations of 15 million illegal immigrants has inflamed the emotions of the South African masses who believe that these Africans are depriving them of jobs. Efforts by the Zimbabwe Exemption License Holders Association to expand the legitimacy of registered Zimbabweans are just a drop in the ocean.
What is known is that #SouthAfricaVotes2024 is a highly charged storm cloud waiting to wreak havoc among Zimbabweans who live with South Africa’s poor communities in informal settlements.
Xenophobia rears its ugly head
The liberal Democratic Alliance – and perhaps the EFF – are probably alone in claiming that the ANC is complicit in unemployment, income disparity and crime, the net result of poor governance and corruption.
Yet this will provide little comfort to the millions of African immigrants holed up in South Africa’s squatter camps, where Operation Dudula is most powerful. By a stroke of luck, the populist and rowdy EFF took out arms to defend all Africans in Limpopo, accusing their home countries of ruining their own economies.
This is an undeniable fact, given that most Africans in the SADC region view their gigantic southern neighbor as a haven of economic, social and political happiness. Police Minister Bhekokwakhe Cele has been accused of collaborating with Dudula in spontaneous raids aimed at purging local areas of criminals. THE the police denied this accusation.
This gives a distorted impression that violent crimes such as rape, highway robberies and drug trafficking are a scourge associated with illegal Zimbabweans.
There is no doubt that in 2024, ANC leader and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa will have to dig deep into his political archives to appease this skeptical constituency. His several million rands Phala Phala scandal and crippling power outages will only worsen its electoral appeal.
However, South Africa has one of the most developed industries in the southern hemisphere. It is therefore not surprising that unemployed citizens and political activists in the SADC region continue to seek solace in this country’s economy, even for menial jobs.
#SouthAfricaVotes2024 will bring the issue of illegal immigration to the forefront. Some Zimbabweans, Malawians and Mozambicans may return home to avoid the inevitable scourge of Dudula-inspired xenophobia.
Those who remain only hope that politicians will not make them scapegoats.
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